Your brand is usually the first impression consumers, competitors and the world have of your company. Its name, logo and the marketing your organization engages in should be consistent with the message you want your brand to convey. A superior brand begins with a name, but care must be taken when choosing a name to allow for future growth and expansion without creating confusion on the part of the consumer audience you are attempting to reach.
Names as industry identifiers
One school of thought on the topic of names and their correlation to an organization’s brand holds that consumers make an immediate connection between your company and the industry in which it operates solely from a name. Some businesses believe inclusion of a reference to the industry in a company’s name is the most effective method to create a correlation with their industry. Some businesses have used a different strategy to link its brand with its industry.
Kleenex, for example, has become synonymous with its industry without having to include “tissue” in its name. The company’s branding strategy has been so successful, that many people use the company’s name as a substitute for the name of the generic product they sell.
Nike is another example of a company that developed its brand to such an extent as to become synonymous with its industry. The company’s marketing strategy dovetailed perfectly with its brand strategy to promote it as the leader in the industry in terms of products designed for superior performance and quality. When the company expanded its product line into athletic and sports apparel, its brand and marketing strategies allowed it to do so while maintaining its high-level of consumer awareness and its position as an industry leader.
The argument against linking an organization’s name with its industry
Whether through incorporation of an industry reference in its name or using branding and marketing to make the industry link, association of a company with one industry or a single product can limit the ability of a business to expand. Brand confusion can ensue when a company attempts to introduce a new product line or branch out into a new industry.
For instance, Xerox established itself as the leader in the copier industry through its brand. Its branding strategy would eventually prove to be too successful and stand in the way of the company’s efforts to discontinue its line of stand-alone copiers. A new logo and marketing campaign would take years to refocus consumer awareness away from a Xerox brand that had been associated with a specific product in one particular industry.
Learning from the successes and failures of others
The conclusion to be drawn from the lessons of other companies might be that instant association of your company’s name with its industry is something that should be addressed when developing a brand strategy. Thinking of your company’s name as part of the branding process and not as a stand-alone issue will prevent wasting time and resources focusing too much on industry recognition or linkage to products when choosing a name. General Electric is a prime example of a company that has expanded its brand into products and services far removed from anything its name might at first bring to mind.
General Electric has grown into a global enterprise, but its business interests now include financial services, healthcare, software development and other areas unrelated to electricity or electrically products. Now known primarily as “GE,” the company has found ways to expand its brand over the years without creating confusion among its customers.
The professionals at CreatingBrands.com believe in the core principles underlying the development of a successful brand, including:
- Give consumers something that is of value to them based upon knowing your audience and what is most important to them
- Offer a message or promise that is consistent with the values of your organization
- Remain consistent with the strengths and limitations of your company
- Utilize all segments of your organization and commitments them to the success of your brand
The name you choose for your company should do more than merely link it to a particular industry. Its name should be representative of its values and become synonymous with them, much more than with one particular industry, in the minds of consumers. CreatingBrands.com understands this principle and works closely with businesses in acquiring a name and using it effectively in the branding process.